Under the Freedom of Information Act, I would request you to respond to questions included in the attachment.
For any reason if you are unable to open the attachment do let me know. I can then send the questions within the email itself.
Please note: If you do not have records relating to the questions in the attachment, please pass on this request to your IT department to provide us with the required information.
Thank you for your recent request dated 12th July 2023.
Public Health Wales does not confirm or deny that we hold the information you have requested regarding the number of devices deployed by the organisation. Providing the level of detail requested may result in releasing sufficient information to potentially compromise our information security arrangements. We therefore engage the following exemption under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Section 38(2) – Health and Safety of the Act – which states that:
38(1) Information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to –
(a) endanger the physical or mental health of any individual, or
(b) endanger the safety of any individual.
(2) The duty to confirm or deny does not arise if, or to the extent that, compliance with section 1(1)(a) would, or would be likely to, have either of the effects mentioned in subsection (1).
In order to engage this exemption, I am required to consider the public interest.
Public interest considerations in favour of releasing the information.
There is a general public interest in openness and transparency in public sector bodies which can help to maintain public trust.
Information relating to the number of devices deployed by Public Health Wales are clearly matters of public interest and we recognise that there is a legitimate interest in knowing the number of devices deployed by Public Health Wales.
Public interest considerations in favour of refusing to release the information.
Public Health Wales has a duty to protect the public and individuals, and to provide a safe and effective public health service. The release of information under FOIA is ‘release to the world’ and I do not believe that there is a significant public interest in the level of detail that you have requested.
Public Health Wales devices are used to directly assist with the provision of patient care. It has been established that any groups who may be planning cyber-attacks are known to conduct extensive research into the opposition they might face and the release of any information which is held about the security of our systems and types of devices and systems, no matter how innocuous such requests may appear, may enhance the capability of cyber terrorists and hackers to carry out such attacks.
Releasing any information held could enable hackers and cyber criminals to gain knowledge about Public Health Wales capabilities and IT security measures, and this could enable them to plan attacks where they perceive a lower level of security resource exists. This exposes our IT systems and devices to greater risk and therefore it also follows that risk to our systems and devices will also constitute a risk to both public and staff of Public Health Wales as our systems and devices are used to provide patient care.
Balance of Public Interest Test
Public Health Wales concedes that there is a very real interest in the public knowing that it has adequate levels of protection in place for its IT systems and devices to ensure that we limit any potential for risk befalling the systems and devices on which we heavily rely to complete our day to day business and for running the organisation.
However Public Health Wales believes that ensuring the safety of our systems and devices is paramount and on the balance of the information provided above Public Health Wales believes that there would be a clear causative link between releasing the requested information which could then expose Public Health Wales to the risk of crime which could subsequently endanger or cause harm to our patients. Public Health Wales believes that confirming or denying the information requested is held could expose Public Health Wales sites to hackers and cyber criminals this in turn could lead to Public Health Wales being unable to deliver and provide patient care thereby resulting in a real risk of potential harm to our patients and staff and endanger individuals who are depend upon our IT systems and devices for the care they require.
I believe therefore that the public interest in withholding this information outweighs any arguments for disclosure and so we will neither confirm nor deny that we hold the information requested.
There is no current specific procurement plan, as this will depend on future budget and strategy.
If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your request and wish to make a complaint or request a review of the decision, you should write to the Corporate Complaints Manager, Public Health Wales NHS Trust, 3, Number 2, Capital Quarter, Tyndall Street, Cardiff, CF10 4BZ.
If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint or review, you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints procedure provided by the Trust. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:
Information Commissioner for Wales
Telephone: 029 2067 8400